Hollow victory;Leading Article;Opinion

30th July 1999 at 01:00
Once again, the Education Secretary David Blunkett has come out robustly in support of the school inspection service, OFSTED, and its controversial boss Chris Woodhead.

Yesterday, Mr Blunkett rejected calls to curb the independent voice of the chief inspector, arguing that it is his job - indeed his duty - to speak "plainly and openly about the strengths and weaknesses identified through inspection". On the face of it, this is game, set and match to the Chris Woodhead, and a defeat for the MPs who sought to rein him in (page 1). But there is plenty in the Government's response which indicates concerns regarding OFSTED. The Education Secretary has made clear he wants to see improvements in the quality of the inspection service, and he supports the MPs' call for Government auditors to investigate whether OFSTED is giving good value for money.

Ministers are right to veto the idea of a board of commissioners to bring Mr Woodhead to heel. The independence of the chief inspector is a crucial constitutional issue - and Chris Woodhead won't be there for ever. In spite of his recent performance-related bonus, there are signs that his influence may be on the wane.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today